Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 5  Chapter  5    Verses:  47-63

47. In the foregoing chapter a partial answer might
be found to the question raised by some, as to how the
heavenly Queen, who was so diligent and solicitous in
attending upon and serving her most holy Son, could
ever so far lose Him out of sight as to leave Him in
Jerusalem. Although it would be a sufficient answer to
say that the Lord himself brought it about, yet I will
now explain more fully how it could have happened
without any voluntary negligence or oversight of the
loving Mother. It is certain, that besides availing Him
self of the great concourse of people, our Lord was
obliged to use also supernatural means to elude the atten
tion of his solicitous Mother; for without it She could
no more have lost sight of Him than of the sun, that
lighted Her on the way. Therefore, at the parting
of the men and the women which I mentioned, the al
mighty Lord visited his heavenly Mother with an ab
stractive vision of the Divinity, which with divine power
centered and withdrew all her faculties toward her in
terior. She thus remained so abstracted, inflamed and
deprived of her senses, that She could make use of them
only in so far as was necessary to pursue her way. As
to all the rest, She was entirely lost in the sweetness and
consolation of the divine vision. Saint Joseph was
guided in his behavior by the circumstances already men
tioned; although he also was wrapped in a most exalted
contemplation, which made more easy and mysterious
his error in regard to the whereabouts of the Child.
Thus Jesus withdrew Himself from both of them, re
maining in Jerusalem. When after a considerable while
the Queen came to Herself and found Herself without
the company of her most holy Son, She supposed Him
to be with his reputed father.
48. It was very near to the gate of the city, that the
divine Child turned and hastened back through the
streets. Foreseeing in his divine fore-knowledge all that
was to happen, He offered it up to his eternal Father
for the benefit of souls. He asked for alms during these
three days in order to ennoble from that time on humble
mendicity as the first-born of holy poverty. He visited
the hospitals of the poor, consoling them and giving
them the alms which He had received; secretly He re
stored bodily health to some and spiritual health to many,
by enlightening them interiorly and leading them back
to the way of salvation. On some of the benefactors,
who gave Him alms, He performed these wonders with
a greater abundance of grace and light; thus fulfilling
from that time on the promise, which He was after
wards to make to his Church ; that he who gives to the
just and to the prophet in the name of a prophet, shall
receive the reward of the just (Matth. 10, 41).
49. Having thus busied Himself with these and other
works of his Father, He betook Himself to the temple.
On the day which the Evangelist mentions it happened
that also the rabbis, who were the learned and the teach
ers of the temple, met in a certain part of the buildings
in order to confer among themselves concerning some
doubtful points of holy Scriptures. On this occasion the
coming of the Messias was discussed; for on account of
the report of the wonderful events, which had spread
about since the birth of the Baptist and the visit of the
Kings of the east, the rumor of the coming of the Re
deemer and of his being already in the world, though
yet unknown, had gained ground among the Jews. They
were all seated in their places filled with the sense of
authority customary to those who are teachers and con
sidered as learned. The Child Jesus came to the meet
ing of these distinguished men; and He that was the
King of kings, and Lord of lords (Apoc. 19, 16), the
infinite Wisdom itself (I Cor. 1, 24), and who corrects
the wise (Wis. 7, 15), presented Himself before the
teachers of this world as an humble disciple, giving them
to understand that He had come to hear the discussion
and inform Himself on the question treated of, namely :
whether the Messias was already come, or, if not, con
cerning the time in which He should come into the world.
50. The opinions of the scribes were much at variance
on this question, some of them answering in the affirma
tive, others in the negative. Those in the negative quoted
some testimonies of holy Scriptures and prophecies with
the coarse interpretation reprehended by the Apostle:
namely, killing the spirit by the letter (II Cor. 3, 6).
They maintained that the Messias was to come with
kingly magnificence and display in order to secure the
liberty of his people by the exercise of great power,
rescuing them in a temporal manner from the slavery of
the gentiles; yet, that there were no indications of this
power and freedom in the present state of the Hebrews
and no possibility of throwing off the yoke of the
Romans. This outward circumstance was an argument
of great force among this carnal and blinded people ; for
they presumed, that the coming greatness and majesty
of the promised Messias and the Redemption was
intended for themselves only ; and they believed this Re
demption to be temporal and earthly, just as even now
the Jews, in the obscurity which envelops their hearts
(Is. 6, 10), continue to believe. For to the present day
they have not yet come to realize, that the glory, the
majesty, and the power of the Redeemer, and the liberty
which He is to bring to the world, is not of an earthly,
temporal and perishable kind, but heavenly, spiritual and
eternal; and that it is not intended alone for the Jews,
although offered to them before all other nations, but
indiscriminately for the whole human race descended
from Adam (I Cor. 3, 15).
51. The teacher of truth, Jesus, foresaw that the dis
cussion would end with the confirmation of this error;
for although some of the learned men inclined to the
contrary opinion, they were but few; and they had now
been silenced by the authority and specious arguments
of the others. As the Lord had come into the world in
order to give testimony of the truth (John 18, 37),
which was He Himself, He would not on this occasion,
when it was so important to manifest the truth, allow
that the deceit and error opposed to it should be con
firmed and established by the authority of the learned.
His measureless charity could not pass by unnoticed this
ignorance of his works and high purposes in these men,
who were set as teachers of the people in matters con
cerning eternal life and its Author, our Redeemer.
Therefore the divine Child presented Himself to the dis
putants, manifesting the grace poured out over his lips
(Ps. 44, 3). He stepped into their midst with exceeding
majesty and grace, as one who would propose some
doubt or solution. By his pleasing appearance He
awakened in the hearts of these learned men a desire
to hear Him attentively.
52. The divine Child spoke to them as follows : "The
question concerning the coming of the Messias and the
answer given to it, I have heard and understood com
pletely. In order to propose my difficulty in regard to
its solution, I presuppose what the Prophets say, that
his coming shall be in great power and majesty, which
has also been confirmed by the testimonies brought for
ward. For Isaias says, that He shall be our Law-giver
and King, who shall save his people (Is. 30, 27), and
David, that He shall crush all his enemies (Ps. 94, 3),
Daniel, that all tribes and nations shall serve Him (Dan.
7, 14), Ecclesiasticus, that He shall come with a great
multitude of the saints (Eclus. 24, 3). All the Prophets
and Scriptures are full of similar promises, manifesting
his characteristics clearly and decisively enough for all
those that study them with enlightened attention. But
the doubt arises from the comparison of these with other
passages in the Prophets, since all of them must be
equally true, though on account of their brevity they may
appear to contradict each other. Therefore they must
agree with each other in another sense, which can and
must be found equally applicable in all the passages.
How then shall we understand what this same Isaias says
of Him, that He shall come from the land of the living,
and when He asks: who shall declare his generation?
(Is. 53, 8), that He shall be satiated with reproach; that
He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and that He
shall not open his mouth? Jeremias states that the ene
mies of the Messias shall join hands to persecute Him
and mix poison with his bread, and they shall wipe out
his name from the earth, although they shall not prevail
in their attempt (Jer. 11, 19). David says that He shall
be the reproach of the people and of men, and shall be
trodden under foot and shall be despised as a worm
(Ps. 21, 78) ; Zachary, that He shall come meek and
humble seated upon an insignificant beast (Zach. 9, 9).
All the Prophets say the same concerning the signs of the
promised Messias."
53. "Hence," added the divine Child, "how will it be
possible to reconcile these prophecies, if we suppose that
the Messias is to come with the power and majesty of
arms in order to conquer all the kings and monarchs
by violence and foreign bloodshed ? We cannot fail to see
that He is to come twice ; once to redeem the world and a
second time to judge it; the prophecies must be applied
to both these comings, giving to each one its right expla
nation. As the purposes of these comings are different
so must also the conditions be different; for He is not
to exercise the same office in both, but widely divergent
and opposite offices. In the first advent He is to over
throw the demon, hurling him from his sovereignty over
souls obtained through the first sin. And therefore He
must first render satisfaction to God for the whole
human race; then also teach men by his word and ex
ample the way of eternal life, how they are to overcome
their enemies, serve and adore their God and Redeemer;
how they must correspond to the gifts and use well the
blessings of his right hand. All these requirements the
Messias must fulfill in the first coming. The second com
ing is for the purpose of exacting an account from all men
in the general judgment, of giving to each one the return
for his works, good or bad, chastising his enemies in his
wrath and indignation. This is what the Prophets say
of his second coming."
54. "Accordingly, when we wish to understand how
his first coming shall be in power and majesty, or as
David says, that He shall reign from sea to sea, that
in his advent He shall be glorious, as said by the other
Prophets: all this cannot be interpreted as referring to
visible and terrestrial sovereignty, with all its outward
show of pomp and majesty; but of a spiritual reign in
a new Church, which would be extended over all the
earth with sovereign power arid riches of grace and vir
tue in opposition to the demon. By this interpretation
the whole Scripture becomes clear, while in another sense
its different parts cannot be made to harmonize. That
the people of the Jews are under dominion of the
Romans and are in no condition to restore their sover
eignty, not only cannot be held as a proof of his not
having come, but on the contrary, it is an infallible sign
that He is already come into the world. For our patri
arch Jacob has pointed out this very sign for the guid
ance of his posterity, commanding them to expect the
Messias as soon as they should see the tribe of Juda
deprived of the sceptre and sovereignty of Israel (Gen.
49, 10) ; and you must confess that neither Juda nor any
other tribe of Israel can hope to recover or hold it. The
same is also proved by the weeks of Daniel (Dan. 9,
25) ; which must certainly be now complete. Those who
wish can also remember, that a few years ago a light
was seen in Bethlehem at midnight and that some poor
shepherds heard the message of the new-born Redeemer ;
and soon after some Kings of the East came guided by
a star, seeking the King of the Jews in order to adore
Him. All this had been prophesied. Herod, the father
of Archelaus, believing it an established fact, took away
the life of so many children, hoping thereby to destroy
the new-born King, whom he feared as his rival in the
government of Israel."
55. Other arguments did the Child Jesus add, and
while seeming to ask questions He taught with a divine
efficacy. The scribes and learned men who heard Him
were all dumbfounded. Convinced by his arguments
they looked at each other and in great astonishment
asked: "What miracle is this? and what prodigy of a
boy ! Whence has He come and who is the Child ?" But
though thus astonished, they did not recognize or sus
pect who it was, that thus taught and enlightened them
concerning such an important truth. During this time
and before Jesus had finished his argument, his most
holy Mother and saint Joseph her most chaste spouse
arrived, just in time to hear him advance his last argu
ments. When He had finished, all the teachers of the
law arose with stupendous amazement. The heavenly
Lady, absorbed in joy, approached her most loving Son
and in the presence of the whole assembly, spoke to Him
the words recorded by saint Luke : "Son, why hast Thou
done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought
Thee sorrowing
(Luke 4, 48). This loving complaint
the heavenly Mother uttered with equal reverence and
affection, adoring Him as God and manifesting her
maternal affliction. The Lord answered: "Why is it
that you sought Me ? Did you not know that I must be
about my Father s business?"
56. The Evangelist says that they did not understand
the mystery of these words (Luke 2, 50) ; for it was
hidden at the time to most holy Mary and saint Joseph.
And for two reasons; on the one hand, the interior joy
of now reaping what they had sown in so much sorrow,
and the visible presence of their precious Treasure, en
tirely filled the faculties of their souls; and on the other
hand, the time for the full comprehension of what had just
been treated of in this discussion had not yet arrived
for them. Moreover, for the most solicitous Queen there
was another hindrance just at that time, and it was, that
the veil, concealing the interior of her most holy Son
had again intervened and was not removed until some
time later. The learned men departed, commenting in
their amazement upon the wonderful event, by which
they had been privileged to hear the teaching of eternal
Wisdom, though they did not recognize it. Being thus
left almost alone, the blessed Mother, embracing Him
with maternal affection, said to Him: "Permit my long
ing heart, my son, to give expression to its sorrow and
pain ; so that it may not die of grief as long as it can be
of use to Thee. Do not cast me off from thy sight; but
accept me as thy slave. If it was my negligence, which
deprived me of thy presence, pardon me and make me
worthy of thy company, and do not punish me with
thy absence." The divine Child received Her with signs
of pleasure and offered Himself as her Teacher and
Companion until the proper time should arrive. Thus
was the dove-like and affectionate heart of the great
Lady appeased, and They departed for Nazareth.
57. But at some distance from Jerusalem, when They
were alone upon the road, the most prudent Lady fell
on her knees before her Son and adored Him, asking
his benediction; for She had not thus reverenced Him
openly in presence of the people in the temple, being
always anxious to conduct Herself with the perfection of
holiness. With loving tenderness the Child Jesus raised
Her from the ground and spoke to Her words of sweet
est comfort. Immediately the veil fell, revealing anew
his most holy soul with greater depth and clearness than
ever before. Then the heavenly Mother read and per
ceived in the interior of her most holy Son all the mys
teries of his doings during those three days in Jerusalem.
She understood also all that had passed in the dispute
with the doctors, what Jesus had said and why He did
not manifest Himself more clearly as the true Messias.
Many other sacramental secrets He revealed to his Virgin
Mother, depositing them with Her as in an archive of
all the treasures of the incarnate Word, in order that
thence He might receive for all of them the return of
honor and praise due to Him as Author of such great
wonders. And She, the Virgin Mother, fulfilled all the
expectations of the Lord. Then She asked Him to rest
a while in the field and partake of some nourishment,
and He accepted it from the hands of the great Lady,
the attentive Mother of divine Wisdom (Eccli. 24, 24).
58. During the rest of the journey the heavenly
Mother discoursed with her sweetest Son on the mys
teries, interiorly manifested to Her concerning the dis
cussion with the teachers. He repeated by word of
mouth, what He had shown Her interiorly. In particu
lar He told Her, that these doctors had not recognized
Him as the Messias because they were inflated and arro
gant in their own knowledge. Their understanding was
obscured by the darkness of their pride, so that they
could not perceive the divine light shining forth in such
profusion from Him ; while, if they had had the humble
and loving desire of seeing the truth, his reasoning would
have sufficiently convinced them. On account of these
obstacles they saw it not, though it was open before
their eyes. Our Redeemer converted many souls to the
way of salvation on this journey and, as his most holy
Mother was with Him, He used Her as an instrument
of his wonderful works. By means of her most prudent
words and holy admonitions He enlightened the hearts
of all to whom She spoke. They restored health to
many of the sick; They consoled the afflicted and sor
rowful; and everywhere They scattered grace and mercy
without ever losing an occasion for doing good. Since
I have described more particularly some of the wonders
performed during other of their journeys, I do not stop
to describe any more here; for many chapters and much
time would be necessary to relate them all and there are
other things more to the point to be related in this
59. They arrived at Nazareth, where they occupied
themselves in what I shall record later on. The evan
gelist Luke compendiously mentions all the mysteries in
few words, saying the Child Jesus was subject to his
parents, namely most holy Mary and saint Joseph, and
that his heavenly Mother noted and preserved within
her heart all these events; and that Jesus advanced in
wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men (Luke
2, 52), of which, as far as my understanding goes, I
will speak later on. Just now I wish only to mention,
that the humility and obedience of our God and Master
toward his parents were the admiration of the angels.
But so was also the dignity and excellence of his most
blessed Mother, who thus merited that the incarnate God
should subject Himself and resign Himself to her care ; so
much so, that She, with the assistance of saint Joseph,
governed Him and disposed of Him as her own. Al
though his subjection and obedience was to a certain
extent a natural result of her motherhood; ye,t, m order
to make proper use of this maternal right and superior
ity, a different grace was necessary than the one by which
She conceived and gave birth to Him. The graces nec
essary for such ministry and office were given to most
holy Mary in such abundance, that they overflowed into
the soul of saint Joseph, making Him worthy of being
the reputed father of Jesus and the head of this family.
60. To the obedience and subjection of her most holy
Son the great Lady on her part responded by heroic
works. Among her other excellences She conceived as
it were an incomprehensible humility and a most heart
felt gratitude for having regained the companionship of
her Son. This blessing, of which the heavenly Queen
deemed Herself unworthy, vastly increased in her most
pure heart her love and her anxiety to serve her divine
Son. And She was so constant in showing her gratitude,
so punctual and solicitous to serve Him, kneeling before
Him and lowering Herself to the dust, that it excited
the admiration of the highest seraphim. Moreover, She
sought with the closest attention to imitate Him in all
his actions as they became known to Her and exerted
Herself most anxiously to copy them and reproduce
them in her own life. The plenitude of her perfection
wounded the heart of our Christ and Lord, and, accord
ing to our way of speaking, held him bound to Her with
chains of invincible love. (Osee 11, 4). His being thus
bound as God and as Son to this heavenly Princess,
gave rise to such an interchange and divine reciprocity of
intense love, as surpasses all created understanding. For
into the ocean of Mary s soul entered all the vast floods
of the graces and blessings of the incarnate Word; and
this ocean did not overflow (Eccles. 1, 7), because it
contained the depth and expanse necessary to receive
them. But these currents turned back to their source like
ebbs and tides of the Divinity held between two shores,
the Son of God and his Mother. This explains the many
repetitions of the humble acknowledgment of the Spouse :
"My beloved to me, and I to him, who feedeth among the
lilies, till the day break and shadows retire." (Cant. 2,
16). And elsewhere: "I to my beloved, and my beloved
to me" (Cant. 6, 2) ;
"I to my beloved, and his turning
is to me" (Cant. 7, 10).
61. The fire of divine love, which burned in the heart
of our Redeemer and which He came to spread upon the
earth, finding material so prepared and ready at hand
as was that of the pure heart of Mary, produced such
effects, as only the Lord Himself, who was the Author
of them, could properly estimate. There is but one thing,
which I wish to record, having received an understanding
thereof, that in the outward demonstration of his love
for his most holy Mother, He guided Himself not by
the natural affections and inclinations of a Son, but by
her capability of meriting as a pilgrim in mortal life;
for He well knew that, if in these demonstrations He
would allow his filial love for such a Mother to have
full sway, He would impede her merits by forcing upon
Her the continual enjoyment of the delights of her Be
loved. On this account the Lord restrained to a certain
extent the human activity of his love and permitted his
Mother, though She had reached the pinnacle of sanc
tity, to engage in meritorious labor and suffering by
stopping now and then the flow of visible favors from
his divine humanity. In his daily intercourse the divine
Child therefore maintained a certain reserve and modera
tion. Hence, though the most assiduous Lady was so
solicitous in serving and ministering to Him in all his
wants, her most holy Son indulged in no such outward
tokens of his filial love as would have been an adequate
return for her loving service.
62. My daughter, all the works of my most holy Son
and my own actions are full of mysterious instruction
and doctrine for the mortals who contemplate them dili
gently and reverently. The Lord absented Himself from
me in order that, seeking Him in sorrow and tears, I
might find Him again in joy and with abundant fruits for
my soul. I desire that thou imitate me in this mystery
and seek Him with such earnestness, as to be consumed
with a continual longing without ever in thy whole life
coming to any rest until thou holdst Him and canst lose
Him no more (Cant. 5, 4). In order that thou mayest
understand better this sacrament of the Lord, remember,
that the infinite Wisdom made men capable of his eternal
felicity and placed them on the way to this happiness, but
left them in doubt of its attainment, as long as they have
not yet acquired it, and thus filled them with joyful hope
and sorrowful fear of its final acquisition. This anxiety
engenders in men a lifelong fear and abhorrence of sin,
by which alone they can be deprived of beatitude, and
thus prevent them from being ensnared and misled by the
corporeal and visible things of this earth. This anxiety
the Creator assists by adding to the natural reasoning
powers, faith and hope, which are the spurs of their love
toward seeking and finding their last end. Besides these
virtues and others infused at Baptism, He sends his inspi
rations and helps to keep awake the soul in the absence of
its Lord and to prevent forgetfulness of Him and of
itself while deprived of his amiable presence. Thus it
pursues the right course until it finds the great goal,
where all its inclinations and longing shall be satiated.
63. Hence thou canst estimate the listless ignorance of
mortals and how few stop to consider the mysterious
order of the creation and justification and all the works
of the Almighty tending toward this exalted end. From
this forgetfulness flow so many evils endured by men
while they appropriate so many earthly goods and
deceitful delights, as if they could ever find in them
their ultimate end. The height of perversity opposed to
the order of the Creator, is that mortals in this transitory
and short life rejoice in visible things as if they were
their last end, while they ought, on the contrary, to make
use of creatures to gain, not to lose, the highest Good.
Do thou, therefore, my dearest, be mindful of this dan
gerous human folly. Consider all delights and joys of the
world as insanity, its laughing as sorrow, sensible enjoy
ment as self deceit, as the source of foolishness, which
intoxicates the heart and hinders and destroys all true
wisdom. Live in constant and holy fear of losing eternal
life and rejoice in nothing except in the Lord until thou
obtainest full possession of Him. Fly from conversation
with men and dread its dangers. If sometimes God
places thee in the way of human intercourse for his glory
and by obedience, although thou must trust in his pro
tection, yet never be remiss or careless in guarding thy
self from contamination. Do not trust thy natural dis
position when there is question of friendship and close
intercourse with others ; in this consists for thee a greater
danger ; for the Lord has given thee a pleasing and mild
disposition, so that thou mayest naturally incline toward
Him, resist none of his intentions and make a proper
return for the blessings bestowed upon thee. But as
soon as thou givest entrance to creatures into thy heart
thou wilt certainly be carried away and alienated by
them from the highest Good, and thou wilt pervert
the intentions and operations of his infinite wisdom in
thy behalf. It would certainly be most unworthy of
thee to divert that which is most noble in thy nature
toward an unseemly end. Raise thyself above all
created things, and above thyself (Thren. 3, 28). Per
fect the operations of thy faculties and set before them
the exalted perfections of thy God, of my beloved Son
and thy Spouse, who is beautiful among the sons of men
(Ps. 44, 3). Love Him with all the powers of thy
heart and soul.
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